Wednesday, April 22, 2015

You Are Not Alone

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.  The theme this year is "You Are Not Alone". Read more here:

I've been thinking about this theme a lot this week, and how important this simple phrase really is.

Infertility can be incredibly isolating.  Life becomes a series of doctor's visits, and tests, and disappointment.  It's hard not to let your mind become a bit obsessed when so much of your month revolves around treatment; not to mention the effort of dealing with the grief and anxiety that are infertility's best friends.  The isolation, however, also stems from not being able to talk openly about what has effectively become the biggest "thing" in my life right now.  There are exceptions of course (I have a select few amazing friends and my mom has been like a therapist), but the general population is not expecting, "I'm doing shitty; I lost a pregnancy a couple months ago" as an answer to, "how are you?"  Trust me, I've actually tried this and it doesn't always go over so well.

In spite of this, this week's theme has really been driven home to me over the past few days.  First, I participate in an incredible community of people trying to conceive after a loss on a message board:

A few days ago, a lovely lady started a thread that just opened a door to vent.  Now, we do a lot of that anyway, but this was different.  This wasn't discussing a specific trigger that occurred one day; this was letting all the emotions and deep heartache and worry out of the cage.  And something amazing happened - you could almost feel everyone shaking their heads in unison reading each other's posts.  I found myself reading paragraphs that put into words what I was feeling way better than I could articulate myself.  Similarly, when I posted, I had a ton of people express that they felt the same way I did.

There were some clear themes - a feeling of loss, as if something had been stolen from us.  Besides the obvious loss, there are losses of happiness, of feeling like ourselves, and of the lovely innocence we once had about this process.  There was also a theme of anger; of wanting to smash things.  (This one may or may not have been started by me.  Seriously folks, it's been taking a lot of effort to not take a hammer to things.  My cell phone should be incredibly worried since it's usually the vessel of insensitive texts or Facebook baby announcements.)  In a nutshell - this shit is the shittiest.  But this thread was like looking around the trenches and realizing you had a ton of people fighting there with you.

On Monday I also went to my first support group.  I won't lie - I sat in my car for a good 15 minutes watching what kind of people were walking into this thing deciding if I should bail or not.  I ultimately went in; and I was very glad I did.  I kept picturing a, "hi, my name is _____ and we've been trying for a year and a half, let's all cry now" stereotype, but it wasn't that at all.  No introductions or stories necessary - we're all there because we're generally dealing with the same thing.  Maybe not the same protocol or the same medications, or even the exact same step of the journey, but infertility is a giant umbrella.  Just one in which the rain is on the inside instead of the outside.

We all just....started talking.  We shared knowledge about doctors (coincidentally, all of the girls there were either seeing the same doctor or about to) and treatment.  We shared experiences with medications.  We shared laughter over the silly things people have said to us.  And that 1 hour and 45 minutes flew by.  When I got home and my husband asked me how it went I simply said, "My god, it was SO GOOD to just talk with a group of people who just get it on every level."  (Ok, I've never "simply" said anything, so it came with a lot of other babbling, but that was the general idea).

So, while this whole damn thing sucks so very hard, it is absolutely true that I am most definitely not alone.  And neither are you.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Conscious effort

After a rough few days last weekend, I was finally able to dig myself out of the pit I was wallowing in.   I've often felt through this process like I don't even recognize myself anymore, so to feel a bit more like my old self has been refreshing.   I can get through the days a little happier, but there's no denying that there's always a sadness right beneath the surface.  It takes focus and discipline to recognize when my mind starts getting stuck on the rough thoughts, and to force myself to stop.  It's a conscious effort - no longer is a happy day something that just happens.  A happy day is one I have to fight for.

It's hard.  My mind tends to highlight every little trigger.  If I see a pregnant woman I think, "She looks to be about as far along as I would have been right now."  If (like today) I hear friends announcing their pregnancies, I think, "We would have been pregnant at the same time."  It's a sad little math that my brain tends to get stuck on: how many more months will I have to wait?  how old will that make me when I have a child?  how many tries can I possibly get before my due date arrives?

I am walking a tight rope over that pit.

I hope it will get easier once I'm finally given a clean bill of health.  I suspect that knowing I am physically through the loss will help me feel emotionally more past it as well.  My brain could really use some cooperation from my uterus here!  In the meantime, when the thoughts start to creep up, I repeat to myself some lyrics that have been stuck with me:

But there's nothing more to it, I just get through it. Oh there's nothing more to it, I just get through it.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Up and down

There's no other way to describe the last 3 months - both physically and emotionally.

Physically, we thought we were finally done with the surgery last week to remove the retained tissue and polyp.  Only, it wasn't a polyp, it was a fibroid, which as it turns out, is a bit more serious because the growth was actually embedded within the walls of my uterus.  So rather than getting a clean bill of health, I instead have to let yet another cycle go by before I have to get another SIS.  If you're keeping count, that makes 3 SIS's so far in 2015.  Let's hope this one is the last one.

Let me just take a detour at this moment to tell you a little something else about my appointment.  When I walked in, I was asked if I had a stent in, which I was sure I did not.  No one had ever told me I did and I'd think I notice some kind of device inside of me.  But the thing is - my husband told me THREE times that I had one.  Except I was apparently still under some anesthesia at the time so I didn't remember this.  I'm told the conversation went something like this:

Husband:  hey, you're awake, how do you feel?

Me:  Ok.  Am I ok? are we cleared?

Husband:  Yes, but you have a stent in that will have to come out in a week.

Me:  Ok, but not another SIS, right?!

Husband: No.  No SIS.

Me:  Thank god.

Repeat two more times.

So color me confused when I waked into my doctor's office and she told me I absolutely had a stent in, and it had to come out.  So I asked how that's done, and if it was going to hurt.  I was given some nonsense answer, because the *real* answer would have been, "Sorry, despite amazing medical advances over the past several decades, no one cared to ever think of any better way than to just yank this thing out of you (with no pain medication) and it's going to hurt so bad you won't be able to form thoughts after it's done."

I still cross my legs when I think about it.

But the good news is now an SIS doesn't seem quite so daunting, because hey, at least it's not a stent removal.

So with that very painful and disappointing appointment, I am back on a roller coaster I thought I had finally gotten off of.  And back to good days and bad days.

Sometimes, like yesterday, I am absolutely toxic.  I am depressed, I am sad, and I am so very angry.  Nothing helps, and no matter how hard my dear sweet husband tries, I can't get out of that dark hole.  And the thing with bad days is you can't plan for them.  So I found myself in this awful place, and also having to head over to the in-laws to see the family.  On a normal day, this would make for a lovely time, but on a bad day, it's hard to feel lovely about anything.  But life goes on, even when you're not up for it.